back to article New York senator proposes tax credit for open-source developers

A New York state senator says open-source programmers should be able to claim back part of their costs for writing free software. NY senate bill S161, proposed by Senator Daniel Squadron (D) and co-sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D), would allow developers to claim for 20 per cent of the out-of-pocket costs of …

  1. FF22

    Stupid idea

    Code itself has no value. It's just text, numbers and symbols. It gains value by solving an actual problem. And if it does so, market will be ready to pay for it.

    They could just as well give tax-benefits for those who scribble a few pages full with text or drawings, and place that under public domain. It would be just as ridiculous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid idea

      It's not a wholly new idea. AFAIK the Smithsonian museums exist partly because a deal was struck to pay less tax in recognition of the (quite extraordinary) philanthropy they represent. And in another display of pragmatism IBM weren't broken up because they did so much fundamental research within the company that it was felt that they were socially useful as they were.

      And anyway, why shouldn't a little friendly pragmatism come the way of the small guys too?

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Stupid idea

        I don't think the OP was complaining about supporting creators of open source code. Rather they were complaining that not all code is equal and we shouldn't be giving tax breaks because someone released a Hello World under the GPL.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stupid idea

          All "tax incentives" are dumb. There's already a tax break for open source coding, anyhow: the more you do it, the less money you bring in, dropping you into lower tax brackets.

          Listen up politicians: if you want to do something good with the tax code, just rip it up.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Re: Stupid idea

            RE: just rip it up. (the tax code)

            Yeah. We can all just build our own roads and form our own police and military and do all our own medical work and throw out all that other useless shit provided by governments. Back to the Jungle, here we go!

          2. JoeF

            Re: Stupid idea

            " There's already a tax break for open source coding, anyhow: the more you do it, the less money you bring in, dropping you into lower tax brackets."

            You really have no idea how this works, do you?

            Do you really think Linus Torvalds, who exclusively works on Open Source, has a low tax bracket???

            People nowadays often get paid for developing Open Source software. Or they get hired because of their Open Source contributions. The "doing stuff in the parents' basement" was never really true, and only came from clueless people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid idea

      The main beneficiary of this kind of thing would be developers giving up their time to contribute to free software for which they would normally expect no remuneration.

      In essence the government sees a public good from this kind of endeavour and they want to reward it.

      I say all power to them.

      It's really no different from tax credit for charitable donations.

      Oh, and BTW I almost never downvote postings on principle, but your idiotic posting motivated me on this rare occasion.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Stupid idea

        "The main beneficiary of this kind of thing would be developers giving up their time to contribute to free software for which they would normally expect no remuneration."

        The problem is, who decided if a contribution is valid and what it's worth, if anything?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stupid idea

          > The problem is, who decided if a contribution is valid and what it's worth, if anything?

          Nobody can. Whether software is useful or not is entirely dependent on your point of view.

          I certainly wouldn't want anybody to base a credit on such criteria anyway.

          For every successful software project, many others have failed and gone by the wayside.

          I would award this credit for time spent on any software credit that was made available under a permissive license and publicly accessible.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Stupid idea

            "I would award this credit for time spent on any software credit that was made available under a permissive license and publicly accessible."

            10 PRINT "Hello World"

            20 GOTO 10

            License: BSD Standard

            Profit!!!!

            Sorry, just being a bit factitious here, but the point is someone has to draw a line somewhere if tax credits are to be offered against writing open source code. Must it be a formal project? Which projects qualify? Maybe it's an "established" coder working on his own, what's his/her track record? What about those who can't code but help manage the projects or spend time creating and/updating the documentation?

            The idea might be nice, but I can't see how it can be administered in a fair way.

  2. Herby Silver badge

    So I need to spend $1000

    Just to get the $200 back. Sitting at a computer monitor doesn't count, and I doubt that buying hardware that is shared with your mild web surfing for porn news items is going to work. So I guess it is toner and ink cartriges that I will need to qualify.

    I guess it is the thought that counts.

    The stupid idea would be $$$ for lines of code, and that would be an interesting proposition.

    1. Justin Clift

      Re: So I need to spend $1000

      Well, if someone's already spending a few $ on something like hosting or similar, this **might** allow them to claim some of it back (depending on what the law allows, etc). I guess it all helps. :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy tool

    I develop an open source privacy tool for our post-Snowden mass surveillance era, to keep the totalitarian government the hell out of people's business.

    Do you think I'd qualify for the tax rebate?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Privacy tool

      I develop an open source privacy tool for our post-Snowden mass surveillance era, to keep the totalitarian government the hell out of people's business.

      Do you think I'd qualify for the tax rebate?

      Certainly not anonymously :)

      1. Smooth Newt
        Happy

        Re: Privacy tool

        I develop an open source privacy tool for our post-Snowden mass surveillance era, to keep the totalitarian government the hell out of people's business.

        Do you think I'd qualify for the tax rebate?

        The Government will be particularly magnanimous in your case. You will have to fill in a form to claim it of course.

        But don't be at all concerned about the section on the form where you have to provide your private code signing key, the login credentials for any online accounts you use to distribute the the code etc., that is just standard for anyone wanting to claim the rebate and nothing at all to worry about. Once the NSA have checked those details are correct you will receive your rebate.

  4. ST Silver badge
    Angel

    Whaaa? I can haz deduction?

    As a resident of New York State and New York City I fully support this proposal.

    Realistically speaking, it will probably never pass the NY Legislature.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No. All too vague.

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